Red Sox Clinch AL East Division Title with Win vs. Yankees

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistSeptember 21, 2018

Boston Red Sox's Mookie Betts, left, gestures toward teammate J.D. Martinez after his single which drove in Betts and Blake Swihart, right, during the seventh inning of a baseball game against the Seattle Mariners at Fenway Park, Friday, June 22, 2018, in Boston. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Elise Amendola/Associated Press

The Boston Red Sox clinched their third straight American League East championship with an 11-6 win over the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on Thursday night. 

By beating New York, the Red Sox reached 104 wins, nine ahead of the Houston Astros. Boston is also on pace to set a franchise record for most victories in a season—in a bid to best the 1912 squad that racked up 105 wins.

The Red Sox were the first team to clinch a playoff berth when they beat the Toronto Blue Jays 7-2 on Sept. 11. Their subdued celebration indicated the job was far from over.

"It's a nice accomplishment, but this isn't what we set out to do," Red Sox right-hander Nathan Eovaldi said, per the Eagle-Tribune's Chris Mason. "We still have a lot of things to prove. The goal is to win the World Series."

The Red Sox's mindset is understandable. Two years ago, the Cleveland Indians swept the Sox out of the American League Division Series. A season ago, the World Series champion Houston Astros brushed them aside in four games in the ALDS.

The 2018 Red Sox have the pieces to get to the Fall Classic.

Chris Sale is enjoying a campaign that may have culminated in his first Cy Young Award had shoulder issues not kept him out for a stretch. The seven-time All-Star is 12-4 with a 1.92 ERA and 222 strikeouts in 150 innings.

Just as important, Rick Porcello, David Price and Eduardo Rodriguez have meet or exceeded expectations. Having a strong three- or four-man rotation is imperative in the playoffs, and the Red Sox's starters shouldn't be an issue in October.

That's the case with the starting lineup as well, as J.D. Martinez, Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts and Andrew Benintendi anchor one of the most fearsome offenses in baseball. 

According to FanGraphs, Boston entered Thursday first in slugging percentage (.448), first in weighted on-base average (.336) and tied for fourth in weighted runs created plus (108).

The next task will be wrapping up home-field advantage. Boston has gone 54-21 at Fenway Park, the best home record in MLB.

The playoffs can be a bit of a crapshoot. For example, two of Boston's playoff losses in 2016 were decided by one run apiece.

Because of that, it's difficult to label any season that doesn't end in a World Series title a disappointment. But a number of Red Sox fans will likely consider anything short of a ninth championship an underwhelming conclusion to an otherwise outstanding year.

Related

    Of Course a Yankees-Red Sox Game Is Exception to New Sunday Night Time

    Boston Red Sox logo
    Boston Red Sox

    Of Course a Yankees-Red Sox Game Is Exception to New Sunday Night Time

    New York Post
    via New York Post

    Eovaldi Worth $17M Even If He Ends Up in Bullpen Later

    Boston Red Sox logo
    Boston Red Sox

    Eovaldi Worth $17M Even If He Ends Up in Bullpen Later

    masslive.com
    via masslive.com

    Eovaldi Reveals Primary Reasons for Re-Signing with Red Sox

    Boston Red Sox logo
    Boston Red Sox

    Eovaldi Reveals Primary Reasons for Re-Signing with Red Sox

    Dakota Randall
    via NESN.com

    Red Sox Bullpen Again the Focus at Winter Meetings

    Boston Red Sox logo
    Boston Red Sox

    Red Sox Bullpen Again the Focus at Winter Meetings

    NBC Sports Boston
    via NBC Sports Boston